Fatherly Stuff: February 2013

Feb 25, 2013

Your Baby Can Read? Reading Between the Lines

Question: On the day that your child was born, what kinds of hopes and dreams did you wish for them? To be a great leader? Perhaps a great actor author or athlete? Maybe it was as simple as hoping they follow your path in life or depending on the person, praying they don’t follow in your footsteps.

In any case, despite the various end results we all fantasize about, the common thread they all share is the simple desire to want what is best for our children. Those desires have a tendency to evolve into a fear of being inadequate, and ultimately the roadblock to our child’s pathway to success.

As a result, corporations feed off of those aspirations in order to convince us that their product/service/institution will give our children the greatest chance of becoming a success.  We respond to their advertisements and scare tactics with our wallets. There are quite a few examples of this that cross many child-focused industries, but I’d like to briefly focus on one: The YourBaby Can Read Programs (YBCR).

YBCR is a series of videos, books and flashcards that are supposedly tailor designed to the thought patterns of infants, in order to give them a head start on literacy comprehension as early as nine months old. This is my well-planned, scientific rendition of the process:
This must be what the E-Trade baby used


Here is the infomercial:

If you watch the infomercial closely enough, you’ll see how they attempt to implant that fear thing I was talking about earlier. Viewers will observe these babies doing seemingly amazing literary feats and panic after realizing that their own child is not doing half of those things.
How is my child going to become the POTUS if he/she can’t read Charlotte’s web at the age of 3? If my infant cannot kick their legs when shown the word, “kicking” on a flashcard, how can I expect them to win the Nobel and/or Pulitzer?
We again respond to these emotions with our wallets and convince ourselves that the only way we can ensure the success of our child (and validation as a parent) is by purchasing the entire YBCR system.
Well, before you hand over your credit card information, you might want to hold off until you read the rest of the paragraph. You know that saying, “If something is too good to be true, it probably is”? Well, apparently the Federal Trade Commission thought the same thing about YBCR and hit them with a lawsuit to the tune of about $185 million because of misrepresentation of their product.

What is the lesson can we learn from this situation? In a nutshell, before you purchase any product that promises you grandiose results, do your research by checking product reviews, and check sites like the Better Business Bureau (www.BBB.org) to make sure the company is legitimate.

There are plenty of fun, low cost ways to help enhance your child's reading ability. Here are a few articles that might be useful:



Also, I wrote an article highlighting the benefits of reading to your child as early as possible.

Question: Did you purchase or were ever tempted to purchase an infomercial-based product that promised to enhance your child's ability?

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Feb 19, 2013

An Ultrasound Miracle

I announced in my Christmas post that my wife and I are expecting our 2nd child. Going prenatal again has been an interesting experience because some of it has been familiar and some of it has been completely different compared to our first go-round. When I found out we were having our first, I was more afraid than anything. Afraid that I was in way over my head and I didnt have what it took to be a dad. This was a stark contrast to my current mindset which is one of excitement and maybe a pinch of nervousness. After 3+ years of parenting, my wife and I are more established both mentally and financially. We also are way more comfortable in our parental skin now.

Another cool thing about having baby #2 is being able to have our 3 year old participate in the process. It was becasue of him I found out my wife was expecting in the first place.I was at work but before I left, my wife told me that she would be taking a pregnancy test. Later that day, I received the following text message from my wife:

A couple of Fridays ago was a special day because we got to find out the sex of the baby together as a family.  What made it especially significant for us was the fact that neither I nor my son were supposed to be there for the ultrasound: I just started a new job a couple of months ago and although this new position came with finanical benefits and a closer commute, they have very strict attendance policies, particularly with new hires. It was devastating news. When I gave my wife the news that I wasn’t going to make it to the appointment, her eyes welled up with tears at the anger and disappointment of knowing that the two most important people in her life wouldn’t be able to be there for such a significant milestone.

After a few days of reflection and quietly cursing my boss, my wife eventually came up with an ingenious compromise: She would go to the appointment alone and request that the ultrasound specialist not tell her the sex but write it down and put it in an envelope. She would then take said envelope to our local bakery and instruct them to bake a cake and have the color of the filling match the sex.  It was brilliant. It wasn’t the same as actually being there, but it was a fun and creative way for us to get the news together.

The day before the appointment, the cake was pre ordered and we were pretty happy that we were able to make the best out of a potentially bad situation. There was news of an upcoming blizzard headed out way. The worst we thought would happen was the doctor's office closing and not being able to go at all. However, the complete opposite happened: not only did we confirm that they would be open, but we also found out that my job was closing their office as well. It was pretty exciting news. The next day we happily drove to the doctor's office.

So basically, I have a natural disaster to thank for creating one of the most memorable family moments of my life.

Feb 18, 2013

Explaining President's Day to a Toddler

I suck at Photoshop apparently

(This morning at the breakfast table)

Me: Do you know what today is?

Son: A "stay home" day?

Me: Yes, that's true. But it's also President's Day. Do you know what a president is?

Son: Like "O'Rock Obama?"

Me: That's right! But do you know what he does?

Son: No

Me: Well, he is the leader of our country. Kind of how Leonardo is the leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Son: Oh, okay!

My wife rolled her eyes at me, but I say as long as he understood the analogy, why not?

WIN IT: Personalized Chalkboard Tags (Fatherly Stuff Giveaway-CLOSED)

(UPDATE- A BIG congrats to Miranda G. from Woodland, CA for winning the giveaway! Her favorite president is JFK) Thanks to all of you who participated.

Once again, it's time for another giveaway!

This time I've partnered with Nizel, owner of Stichcrafty 4u. This store specializes in creating a variety of products with unique stitch patterns. Click HERE to "Like" them on Facebook!

The winner of this giveaway will win a set of 4 chalkboard tags with the design of their choice. Each chalkboard tag is handmade by the owner and have a number of useful purposes. Here are some examples of the designs you have to choose from:
And many more!

 You can find their full selection by clicking HERE

There is also a coupon for 10% off of any purchase, which is good for 30 days after the end of this contest. Code is FATHERLYLOVE
To enter, simply comment below and answer the following question: 
Who is your favorite US president?
The comments will be numbered and randomly selected by random.org. One person per entry. One comment = 1 entry. The deadline for the final entry will be Thursday, 2/21 @ 11:59PM EST. Winner will be announced Friday, 2/22.

(*Must Be 18+ to enter. Also when commenting, please make sure you add an email. Don't worry, we wont be using it for marketing. We just need a way to contact you when/if you win)
Good Luck!
Giveaways are given periodically. Check out our RSS feed to get updates of future posts. 
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Feb 12, 2013

What Parents Do at Night? (A Graph)

If you were like me as a new parent, you probably heard the rumors from veteran parents about the lack of sleep you will encounter. You'll probably rebuff their warnings and think to yourself, "Hey, I'm the same guy who during college was able to party all night Thursday, come home, finish a 5 page paper and place it on my professor's desk by 8am Friday; staying up to take care of my kid will be a breeze!"

Then the baby gets here and everything changes.
A VERY rare moment of peace

Now you are a red-eyed, frothing at the mouth, zombie-like shell of the person you used to be trying your best to appease your child as if he/she were a vengeful Mayan Deity. To those parents, I present the following graph because Lord knows we're doing everything but sleeping:


Feb 10, 2013

Passing the Time During a Snowstorm

My family and I live in New England.  It really is a beautiful place with lots of fun stuff to see and do. But not right now. Because at the moment we are in the middle of one of our coldest winters in the past few years and because of that, we often find our evenings stuck in the house.  On this particular weekend, we've had a particularly nasty visit paid to us by Nemo. Nemo was nice enough to leave lovely "presents" for us, like enough snow to bury our cars and force our Govenor to declare a State of Emergency.


 Needless to say, we were legally mandated to stay off the roads to allow the plow trucks to do their job effectively. That can be a challenging proposition for an energetic toddler, but luckily we came up with a number of activities to keep him occupied. Here are a few of them:

 1.Fun Out In the Snow                                    

I let him dig the cars out while I just sat back and watched

We (By "we" I mean "I") went out and dug our cars out the best we could before we decided to call it quits. Due to the severity of the storm, our little road has not yet been plowed, so we are expecting to be trapped in the house for a while. The next day we decided to try out a cool project that was suggested by a friend: Snow painting. All we did was mix water with food coloring and filled up an empty dish detergent bottle as well as a spray bottle. We used the opportunity to talk to him about primary colors and how they mix to create secondary colors.

His decorated snow cave
Good thing he didn't ask for yellow snow

It's like his own personal, snow filled sandbox
2. Indoor Snow Play

Eventually it got too cold to keep him outside but of course he wanted to continue playing. You know what they say: if you can bring the boy to the snow.... We went out and put some snow in one of his toy bins and put some of his bath toys in it. It turned out to be a good compromise

3. Chutes & Ladders

Inside we played his favorite game about 50 times:Chutes &Ladders. It's a classic twist on this original with the Sesame Street theme. I also like this game because of the educational value: If you look closely, you will see that good behavior is rewarded with a ladder and bad behavior is discouraged with a chute. (Note to self: One snowstorm passes, buy more boardgames to prevent parental boredom)
4.Turned Him Into an Old Man 

We had a lot of fun with this one. It's an app called "Make Me Old". You get to choose from a variety of moustache, beard and eyeglass styles.
 5. Smooshing a Bowl Full of Gel 
Food coloring of his choice was added
We got this idea when we brought him to the ultrasound appointments. Whenever the specialist would put the gel on his mom's belly, he would try to put his fingers in it.  We promised him we would give him his own to play with at home if he would sit still. All it is is some organic hair gel we didn't use anymore and some food coloring. It was great because it involved the one thing that kids love the most: a free pass to make as much of as mess as you want!
Question: Were you ever stuck in the house for an extended period of time? If so, what did you do to pass the time?
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Feb 4, 2013

WIN IT: Jewelry (Fatherly Stuff Giveaway- Closed)

(UPDATE: Elena V from Frankfort, KY -USA is the winner of the giveaway. Thank you to everyone who participated and stay tuned for more giveaways in the near future!)

Whelp, everyone, Valentine's Day is fast approaching us. Last year, I wrote a little about what I did to make V Day as special as possible for my lady (My 2nd post ever... Man does time fly!). I can't do that this time because unlike last year, she is now a regular supporter of the blog and  I wont want to ruin the surprise.

I'm sure most of you (hopefully) aren't that cliche guy who waits until the evening of Valentines/Birthday/Anniversary to scramble something up. But just in case you happen to be one of those people, I want to give one of you the opportunity to WIN a lovely gift for that special person in your life.

I had the good fortune to partner with Anne, owner of`jewelry shop, SallyGoRoundTheMoon. She is a very talented woman who hand crafts all sorts of beautiful jewelry, from bead woven necklaces to intricate bracelets. You can see her entire selection by visiting her blog, www.sallygoroundthemoon.com

The winner of the giveaway will have their pick of one of her octagon style earrings. The styles come in many colors and designs:

Like this one:

Amber, Topaz and Gold Octagon Crystal Earrings

Or this:
Green Octagon Crystal Earrings

Or even this:
Blue Octagon Crystal Earrings with Rondelle Embellishment

And there are many more! Click HERE for more design options!

How do you win you ask? It's easy! Simply answer the following question by commenting on this post:

What was the best gift you ever received/given on Valentine's Day?

The comments will be numbered and randomly selected by random.org. One person per entry. One comment = 1 entry. The deadline for the final entry will be Thursday, 2/7 @ 11:59PM EST. Winner will be announced Friday, 2/8.

(*Must Be 18+ to enter. Also when commenting, please make sure you add an email. Don't worry, we wont be using it for marketing. We just need a way to contact you when/if you win)

PS- If you don't win, don't worry: They are having a SALE that runs until Valentine's Day for 20% off on all jewelry!

Good luck everyone and thanks for checking out my blog!

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Feb 3, 2013

Family photo (Three Generations)

This is the conversation that my dad and I were trying to have with my son:
Me: So, I'm your daddy, but he's my daddy and your grandpa. You're my son, I'm his son and you're his grandson.
I'm pretty sure he got it.... eventually :-)
Moments like these are precious because as we all know, time waits for no man. Years from now, it will be cool to look at this picture and fondly reminisce.

Funny Convo with My Kid

I'll set the scene:

It's past his bedtime on a preschool night. He sometimes has the habit of waking up in the middle of the night to come into our room and cuddle with his mom. Usually we send him back to his room, but every now again his request is indulged. However on this particular night in his sleep induced confusion, he crawled onto my side of the bed and cuddled with me, only to reject me like I had the Spanish influenza once he realized his mistake;

Son: No, I don't wanna cuddle with you daddy!

Me: Why not? I'm just as good of a cuddler as mommy aren't I?

Son: No, becasue you don't have any boobies!

So apparently when it comes to comfort, boobs trump hairy chest. Can't argue with that logic.

Feb 1, 2013

A Good Week for Fatherlystuff!

Hey guys,

I just wanted to take a minute to announce a couple cool things that have been going on.

An article I wrote about the benefits and challenges of being in an interracial family has been reposted on The Good Men Project.

Also this week, I was a guest post on app developer Character Booster's parent blog. In my article, I discussed the advantages to, as well as tips of reading to your children as early and often as possible.

Please take a minute to stop by and check them out. If you enjoyed either article, feel free to comment and/or share with others.

Happy reading!

The Strongest Dad in the World

The following is an article I came across a few years ago in Sport's Illustrated and is written by Rick Reilly. This story touched my heart before I became a dad and does so even more since I became one:

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay for their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars — all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much — except save his life.

This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life," Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. "Put him in an institution."

But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. "No way," Dick says he was told. "There's nothing going on in his brain."

"Tell him a joke," Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot was going on in his brain.

Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!" And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do that."

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. "Then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks."

That day changed Rick's life. "Dad," he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

"No way," Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then they found a way to get into the race officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, "Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?"

How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick tried.

Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii. It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? "No way," he says. Dick does it purely for "the awesome feeling" he gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992 — only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

"No question about it," Rick types. "My dad is the Father of the Century."

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95% clogged. "If you hadn't been in such great shape," one doctor told him, "you probably would've died 15 years ago."

So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

"The thing I'd most like," Rick types, "is that my dad would sit in the chair and I would push him once."